BEST FOR ALL AUDIENCES:
The Beat Goes On
Jazz vocalist Christiana Drapkin has been performing in New York and on the East Coast for over twenty years. She is noted for her lyrical and highly personal delivery of ballads and for her abandoned yet artful scat improvisations. Christiana’s singing is deeply immersed in the rich traditions of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McRae, as well as in the vocalese fireworks of Anita O’Day, Annie Ross and Eddie Jefferson. With her focus on Jazz Standards, she highlights improvisation and harmonic development, carrying on and developing the tradition of Bebop and musicians like Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Lennie Tristano and Dizzy Gillespie.
Christiana came to the US as a Fulbright exchange student from Germany, studying in New Orleans where she got her first immediate exposure to Jazz. Moving to New York provided her with her ideal artistic home, where she became part of a vibrant local jazz scene. She studied jazz with pianist Charles Sibirsky and vocal coach Barbara Feller. Christiana has drawn a lot of inspiration and support from workshops with Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, and, more recently, Tierney Sutton.
For more about Christiana and her jazz vocals, visit her website.
Curtis Blues is a teaching artist and multi-instrumentalist who makes the history of modern popular music come alive. Curtis makes his show an interactive experience by bringing fascinating instruments like a homemade cigar box guitar into the audience to see and hear up close. His shows are appropriate for all ages and for mixed age groups. The show’s content will be adjusted for Pre-K to senior citizens.
Curtis was named Solo Blues Artist of the Year by The DC Blues Society.
“Mr. Blues’ enthusiasm for music is infections! I was impressed with how well he shifted his presentation for the different age groups in our audience. I will definitely have Curtis Blues back for future events.” Mrs. K. Mulzet, Event Planner
For more on Curtis and his music, explore his website.
A sure-fire crowd-pleaser, Pinot & Augustine is a classic, family-friendly clown duo inspired by the golden age of circus. Pinot is the authoritarian clown in fancy clothes and white cone hat. Augustine is the appealing red-nosed bumbler who punctures his pomposity. Their show bubbles over with physical comedy, virtuosity and musical surprises from the sublime to the ridiculous: from lyrical melodies on a musical saw to pratfalls and a whoopee cushion.
The show is primarily physical comedy, but the minimal text is nevertheless bilingual. Pinot speaks French and Augustine speaks English, but everyone understands.
Learn more about Pinot & Augustine on Happenstance Theater’s website.
Mary Ann Jung
Mary Ann Jung is an award-winning actress and Smithsonian scholar who performs fun, interactive, and inspiring shows about amazing women in history She has appeared on CNN, the Today Show, Good Morning America, and in newspapers around the world . She has been a lead actress and Director of Renaissance History and Shakespearean Language at the Maryland Renaissance Festival for forty years. She was Director of Street Theater and Family Performances for ArtScape (Baltimore, MD’s city arts festival) for ten years.
The Smithsonian Institution has presented Ms. Jung’s historical shows for many conferences and special events at their museums. These include Amelia Earhart in front of her actual plane and Sally Ride in front of the space shuttle at the National Air and Space Museum!
Ms. Jung researches and writes her own scripts, and performs in the authentic costumes, accents, and attitudes for her characters’ eras. Her shows are energetic, interactive, and fun. In addition, History Alive! shows are fun and truly appropriate for all ages –and have been enthusiastically received at many schools, senior centers, retirement homes and military bases. Mary Ann Jung’s amazing portraits of famous ladies and their times encourage a love of history, drama, and literature – in young and old alike!
You can choose from Ms. Jung’s 10 shows on her website.
Melanie Edwards is an award-winning singer, songwriter, pianist, violinist and music practitioner. Edwards has been nominated as Best Singer/Songwriter + Best Original Songwriting for The Independent Artist Network for the Music Arts. She has traveled extensively, writing, recording and performing both internationally in France, Russia, Finland, Spain, Denmark, Thailand, Costa Rica and Peru, as well as domestically in California, Hawaii, Texas, North Carolina, Washington DC and New York City.
Melanie was awarded a full stipend research grant for songwriting at Can Serrat International Artist Residency in Barcelona, received grants for music and songwriting at Odysseys Artist Residency in Costa Rica and a two month scholarship for music at Arteles Creative Residency Program in Hameenkyro, Finland. In the fall of 2014, she collaborated with Tommy James, legendary pianist and music director of Duke Ellington Orchestra, in Kailua, Hawaii. Edwards was awarded an artistic achievement fellowship to the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she obtained her MFA in media and the performing arts. She is a huge advocate for bridging the arts and sciences, starting her career in nuclear fission.
Edwards is also an expressive, musical practitioner with several organizations and partner charities, such as Children’s National Medical Center, United Cerebral Palsy, Sing For Hope, Half the Sky Movement, Heifer International and Shoes for Haitian Girls. She plays bedside performances in hospitals, assisted living quarters, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. Edwards services include specialized songwriting to children with autism and terminal illness, as well as senior citizens suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. She composes and co-writes music with patients as a means of coping to alleviate emotional, mental and physical stress during different stages of recovery.
Learn more about Melanie on her website.
Michael Chamberlin, Magician
Fast paced, comedic and spellbinding sorcery that leaves everyone happy and mystified: this is what magician Michael Chamberlin has been providing to audiences up and down the East Coast for 35 years.
Michael has performed more than 6000 magic shows at corporate & private events, galas, festivals, parties, schools and libraries as a full-time professional magician. Stage magic, close-up sleight of hand and walk-around entertainment are all part of his repertoire.
Michael is also a theater director and deeply understands the relationship between the performer and audience. It’s the audience’s wonderment and participation that ignites his love of performing to create an experience that is immediate, theatrical and ‘in the moment!’
A member of the Society of American Magicians, Michael is also an actor and stage director who has studied at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. He is also a member of The Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and the Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers.
Michael treats every magic performance as a piece of theater that he invites the audience into to experience mystery, comedy and uncanny contemporary entertainment.
To learn more about Michael explore his website.
BEST FOR YOUTH:
ACT AS IF featuring Lisa Jan Sherman
‘ACT AS IF’ is a social communication program that uses improvisational acting technique as its base to address nuts and bolts skills as well as more complex social dynamics. We use unscripted scene work to experience the freedom of making choices, observe, and allow for ‘redos’ to model a more positive outcome. This way, from the perspective of ‘player’ and ‘audience’ we imprint appropriate interaction behaviors and then scaffold from there. Our programs are appropriate for a range of ages, cognitive levels, and learning profiles.
Lisa Sherman is an actress, improvisational acting teacher, and cognitive skills coach. She earned professional membership in the actors Unions, AFTRA and SAG, performing in television, film, radio, print, and stage for over 30 years. She has a BA in Theatre and Speech from University of Maryland. Lisa is an original creator and cast member of ‘NOW THIS! Improv’ in Washington, D.C., with a special focus on facilitating team-building.
Lisa enjoys volunteer time with programs for the mentally ill, and animal rights welfare groups. In another life, Lisa opened over a dozen restaurants in Washington DC!
She has been co-facilitating children’s skills groups since 1995. Using improvisational acting technique for targeting social skill practice, combined with Laura’s brilliant organizational mind, and thoughtful framing of ideas, ‘ACT AS IF’ came alive in 2005!
Alex & Olmsted
|Show Description: The Jim Henson Foundation Grant awarded “Milo the Magnificent” is a highly engaging puppet show about an aspiring magician. Using stunningly innovative puppetry, Milo presents a variety of magic tricks which don’t always go as planned. All ages.|
Alex & Olmsted (Alex Vernon and Sarah Olmsted Thomas) have been making puppets together since 2010. In recent years, they have performed at the Festival de Casteliers in Montréal, Canada, Symphony Space in New York City, Puppet Showplace Theater in Boston, and the Puppeteers of America Festival in Connecticut. “Milo the Magnificent” was awarded a 2017 Jim Henson Foundation Grant and a Greenbelt Community Foundation Grant. They are also members of the Helen Hayes award-winning company Happenstance Theater with whom they have created 9 original shows.
The Great Zucchini
The Great Zucchini has performed at the White House, Vice President’s House, 11 embassies, The World Bank, and is the only children’s entertainer to grace the stage of DC Improv. He does over 550 shows a year, and his life story is even being made into a sitcom in Hollywood. From birthday parties to festivals, theaters and library shows, he’s been a staple in the DC metro area for over 2 decades.
The wonder of magic, silliness of comedy, and interactive nature of The Great Zucchini’s show keeps children on the edge of their seats. Read more about The Great Zucchini on his website.
“In the world of children’s entertainment, there is no bigger name than The Great Zucchini.”
Tony Perkins, Fox Morning News
“He has a magical ability to connect to children.”
Baba Ras D, whose name means “Father of Kings and Queens”, is the creator of “Harambee.” Every presentation offers a creative atmosphere “where the children celebrate learning through movement and song.” In Swahili, Harambee means “All pull together.” “Harambee” is the practice of hope, possibility and compassion — basically, all the things that happen when we all come together.
Baba Ras D is pleased to offer this original ‘musical enlightenment’ for your group of children to explore. Think of it as your little one’s first opportunity to express his or her voice (into a microphone), dance, play a drum or percussion instrument, shout, or sing-along to songs that build character, confidence and community.
With more than 10 years of experience in youth development, education, and conflict resolution, Baba Ras D’s “Harambee” is a jolt of inspiration for parents, caregivers and children. Baba Ras D services dozens of child care centers in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area, ranging from private day care centers, community centers, churches, and senior homes to independent child care centers, Montessori child care centers/schools, the Department of Interior Child Care Center, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) day care, and birthday parties.
Read more about Baba Ras D on his website.
Award-winning vocalist, composer, and clinician, Rochelle Rice combines the best of past and present contemporary music. Her profound and flawless sound is a woven tapestry of jazz-centric contemporary pop and soul, while her undeniable stage presence and boldness marks her territory as an artist to follow on the new music scene. Described as “beautiful, spiritual music, steeped in Rice’s trademark fusion of jazz, pop, and soul/R&B,” Rochelle released her debut project, WONDER— complete with beautiful original music, a sizzling quartet, and lush strings. WONDER is a strong first showing of what is sure to be compelling music career.
As a consistent voice on the new music scene, Rochelle has performed at top venues including The Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Blues Alley, Strathmore Mansion, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, and with internationally renowned and Grammy-Award winning artists such as, Sweet Honey In The Rock and Melissa Etheridge.
Dedicated to social justice and music education, Rochelle has performed at protest rallies, marches and performed at both the Grand Opening and First Anniversary Celebration of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. As a music education and social justice advocate, she has been invited to present her interactive and intergenerational programming both nationally and internationally. Rochelle is a regular guest teaching artist for Strathmore Music Center and is Education Program Manager for DC Jazz Festival.
Da Capo (target ages 2-7)
Da Capo is an interactive music history and musicianship skills class for preschool through elementary aged children and their families. Created by award-winning singer and composer, Rochelle Rice. Da Capo focuses specifically on the lives and music of American Music Artists to help young learners develop a love and understanding of the global impact of America’s rich music history. Da Capo, a music term meaning, “the beginning,” uses music, dancing, and storytelling to establish and refine early childhood music skills and bring awareness to the role of music in social justice.
Read more about Rochelle, and hear more of her music on her website!
BEST FOR ADULTS:
Anna Pappas and the Class Act
The Class Act, a vaudevillian group started in 1980 by three teachers, continues to delight audiences with songs, dances, and comedy. The Class Act performs at nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, senior centers, and for individual parties celebrating special occasions. The Class Act offers non-stop entertainment differing in tone, flavor, style and tempo. Shows can be tailored to a specific theme such as Oktoberfest, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc., or a general All-Purpose show can be arranged that builds to a colorful comic ending. The repertoire of THE CLASS ACT includes selections from great musicals and operettas, ethnic dances such as the Greek Zorba and Never on Sunday, Irish Jigs, Polish Mazurkas, and others. Shows usually run about fifty fun filled minutes.
Donato Soranno and his chamber opera ensemble and group of international troubadours presents a feast of entertaining Italian and Spanish folk songs, as well as selections from opera, musical theatre, religious and old-time favorites. Special programs are available for Christmas, Columbus Day, Valentine’s Day and other holidays. Toes will be tapping and audiences members humming along to beloved and happily remembered melodies.
Read more about Donato on his website.
Elena Lacayo is a bilingual Latin-folk singer-songwriter and the lead for Elena & Los Fulanos. Originally from Managua, Nicaragua, Lacayo identifies as both American and Nicaraguan and her music, which ranges from twangy, heartbreak-themed folk Americana, to soothing, introspective, violin-infused Latin cumbia reflects this dual identity. Her dedication to art and activism was brought to light when she was selected to be in the Washington City Paper “The People Issue 2017” of notable Washingtonians.
A lifelong musician, Elena began writing music at the age of In 2011 she formed Elena & Los Fulanos, a band that came together on the streets of DC’s rapidly changing neighborhoods of Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasant, where working immigrant communities co-exist with young political and nonprofit leaders. That is where Elena was introduced to the District’s mariachi, son, and punk music crowds and met her future band members, Danny Cervantes and Andrew Northcutt. Together they are part of the city’s growing indie and international music scene.
In 2012 Elena quit her job in immigration policy to pursue music. Since then her band has released two albums that blend traditional folkloric sounds from Nicaragua and Latin America along with American folk and indie rock to explore the search for artistic meaning, love, and unity, in a city better known for its politics: Miel Venenosa (2014), which was nominated for a Washington Area Music Association (WAMMIE) award for “Best Latin Recording,” and Volcán (2017), which was hailed as “a bilingual folk album for the resistance” by the Washington City Paper. The band’s latest video for the song, “Ponle Fin” (featuring Christylez Bacon) was called “a fist-raising call to stand up to racists, homophobia, immigrant bashing and all manner of intolerance” by NPR’s Alt. Latino.
Currently, Elena regularly plays and tours as a solo artist or with her band. Visit the band’s website to learn more.
Frank Plumer is a pianist, vocalist and accordionist and has been a musician and performer from age the of 4. He currently plays at The Metropolitan Club in Washington DC. Frank has been entertaining the greater Washington DC Metropolitan area for over 30 years. Frank has played for former First Lady Michelle Obama, Ivanka Trump, Alan Greenspan’s 80th Birthday, former President George W. Bush, Stevie Wonder, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, actresses Jessica Alba and Julia Louis-Dreyfus among others. He is a full time musician with a passion for all styles of music. Frank is a consummate professional and fantastic entertainer, guaranteed to make you laugh, while at the same time bringing important insight as teacher of over 30 years to American standards, songs from around the world, Classical, Jazz, Broadway, Patriotic, Religious and Inspirational works that stand the test of time. In addition to English, Frank;s repertoire includes Italian, French, Spanish, Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Russian and Latin. Mr. Plumer brings happiness and joy to all of his audiences and his authenticity comes across!
For more info visit his website here.
The Musical Plumer Family: consists of Frank and his children Tony, Julia and Cecilia. Frank, a musician from the age of four, is a professional pianist and vocalist. Frank performs weekly across from the White House at The Metropolitan Club and frequently at the Army Navy Club and has played at the Hay Adams Hotel, the Four Seasons in Georgetown, the Italian Embassy, the French Embassy the Finnish Embassy and the Embassy of Uruguay. Frank has played for former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s Private Birthday Party and Stevie Wonder among many others. Mr. Plumer has shared his music talents in Italy and Canada as well.
Frank’s son Antonio Plumer, 17, began piano studies at the age of 3. Adopted at the age of 2 from Bulgaria, Antonio won second place in the International Protégé Romantic Music Competition and performed at Carnegie Hall at age 12. He played at The Kennedy Center in 2018.
Frank’s daughters, Julia, 15 and Cecilia, 13 have played piano and have been singing since the age of 3. In addition, Julia also plays violin for The Peabody Youth Orchestra. Both girls have sung with The Washington National Opera Children’s chorus for many years. This past December at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD. Also in the operas La Boheme, Carmen, Hansel and Gretel and The Little Prince at the Kennedy Center.
The Musical Plumer Family, Frank and his three children have been performing together for years with a wide repertoire that includes four hand and six hand piano, songs in Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, German, Spanish, Russian and Latin. They present a blend of more serious works and lighter fare that has been entertaining audiences of all ages for many wonderful years!
Noa Baum is an award-winning storyteller, author and public speaker performing internationally with diverse audiences ranging from the World Bank and prestigious universities and congregations, to festivals, government agencies, schools, and detention centers.
Born and raised in Jerusalem Noa offers a unique combination of performance art and practical workshops that focus on the power of stories to heal across the divides of identity and build bridges for peace. Her stories, drawn from diverse cultures, her own Jewish heritage and personal experience, highlight our similarities, celebrate our differences, and encourage curiosity, awareness, and acceptance.
Noa’s new memoir A Land Twice Promised – An Israeli Woman’s Quest for Peace is a Winner of the 2017 Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award, the 2018 Storytelling World Award and the 2017 LDS Publishing Professionals Association Award. Her audio recordings have won a Storytelling World Award and Parents Choice Award. She is also the recipient of numerous Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County Maryland. Noa is a member of the National Storytelling Network.
Noa’s stories are rich with warmth and humor and draw on the wisdom of many traditions. Her programs honor diversity and connect us to our common humanity making them especially relevant in our communities today. She offers programs for children/family audiences as well as for adults, teens and seniors. More about Noa’s stories on her website.
Some voices were just meant for each other. Jay Byrd and Lara Supan, with drummer Ben Potok, blend to make South Rail’s sound undoubtedly their own. Robust harmonies backed by solid songwriting and musicianship defines the band’s original music, steeped in a fusion of authentic Americana and Rock and Roll.
The band’s latest EP titled “Stars” is produced by Don Was (currently the president of Blue Note Records) and was released on May 6, 2014. South Rail has built their reputation on the quality of their live performance, which is captured on Stars.
Lara, Jay, and Ben have been honing their sound in and around the Washington DC area for two years. In addition to local shows the band has toured several times through the southeast to support their 2013 self-titled EP, which was ranked as DC’s 6th Best Album of the Year in any genre by Brightest Young Things. Since their formation South Rail’s local fan base have been growing exponentially, presenting them with opportunities such as performing at the prestigious Kennedy Center for the Arts, and various local festivals alongside other nationally recognized acts.
Read and hear more from South Rail on their website.
A two-time All-American basketball star renowned for high scores and trick-shot artistry, Spinny’s irresistible personality will charm your audience with a dynamic display of digital dexterity. Behind his fast-action tricks and laughs are encouraging and moving messages of perseverance and positive thinking. Check out his act on his website!
Steve Flynn is a 14 year full time Sinatra tribute artist based in the Washington-Baltimore area. Flynn also performs hits from the likes of Dean Martin, Bobby Darin and other male standard singers of the time period to demonstrate his vocal versatility.
More about Steve can be found on his website.
Steven Gellman Trio
Honest, sincere, and often humorous, Steven Gellman has been performing his slice-of-life lyrics to audiences across the United States since the mid-90s. Described by Billboard Magazine as “intensely sensitive and impressively intelligent,” Gellman’s songwriting spans eight independent releases. On stage, Gellman combines friendly banter with a sonorous, tenor voice that critics have compared to the late John Denver. Gellman has performed at acclaimed venues such as the Birchmere and Club Passim and has opened for the likes of Al Stewart, Richie Havens, Dar Williams, Cheryl Wheeler and others.
Steven specializes in connecting with senior adults of all cognitive abilities in a variety of institutionalized settings. His repertoire includes original songs, old favorites, 60s folk, traditional Irish ballads, and a variety of themed programs.
You can learn more about Steven here.
The Steven Gellman Trio consists of Steven Gellman on lead vocals/guitar, Doug Poplin on cello/harmony vocals, and Margaret Wolfe on harmony vocals/percussion/harmonica. They perform original songs and contemorary folk covers. The trio has also released two, eclectic holiday albums reminiscent of Peter, Paul & Mary’s “A Holiday Celebration” featuring songs of Christmas, Hanukkah, and winter.
Three Boys Night
Three Boys Night Out performs a wide assortment of traditional and contemporary acoustic music. Their repertoire includes bluegrass, “old-time,” and American folk music, including songs about love and romance, tragedy and drama, and inspiration and humor. Listeners will find themselves tapping their feet to the energetic fiddle and bluegrass tunes and then empathizing with the real-life drama reflected in the soulful and authentic, but very tuneful, songs that folks in America’s mountains and hollows have been singing for decades.
The “three boys” are Fred Nelson on acoustic mandolin and guitar; Roger Williams on acoustic guitar; and Mike Ritter on acoustic bass.